i don’t know             about the place i live
inside of when i run my                                            ask me
what it was like growing up in dearborn the                                       looks
up and thinks he can see in my eyes what country he wants to study    i
don’t know what sat in front of the house i grew up in when i grew
up she didn’t ask if it was okay to               me there, just let me
know there was something specific she was looking for i spend
hours in front of my own body i can’t see a thing          i’m
not empty i just don’t know what fills me            i got                 above
my head sure god looks at me but none of the guys do &
i swore i’d eat that day i held a mouse’s heart strained between
the gap my father made inmy teeth i heard no cop cars i
didn’t know what language the other kids were speaking til
they heard me speak & knew it wasn’t the same i said i was born
in             til i finally got my passport and had to google
what                               meant i let the kids think & when they got
bored i told them that my brother is in            & remembered again
why i did let them watch & listen without interfering for so long
they didn’t know my father is in the house i grew up
in          and he spends hours looking at all the               and my mother
       into our living room floor and i touch every inch but never
my own skin       i don’t know how to make it wet or at least stop
screaming i have nothing but a sea i can’t study leaving
barely             i left           nothing anymore to run from but my
own i wanted to be          and got only something looking
up at me thinking i could            it i got nothing to             for
and let it ring on my body i don’t have a liver she never found
it i just wanted something      still    i never wanted love or
something to bring my hair out i didn’t want to talk about
my father or               i didn’t want to say i wasn’t actually arab
no but i guess you can say that for now i know you still
have                        to learn i wanted to find a new place to         i was
 in the house i grew up in i had not even my                       i had no one calling me to kneel anymore




Hajjar Baban is a Pakistan-born Afghan Kurdish poet. She’s a current First Wave Scholar at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she studies creative writing, Arabic, and Persian.